Sunday, February 08, 2015


What Is Plan B for Greece?, por Keneth Rogoff:

Financial markets have greeted the election of Greece’s new far-left government in predictable fashion. But, though the Syriza party’s victory sent Greek equities and bonds plummeting, there is little sign of contagion to other distressed countries on the eurozone periphery. (...)

Some eurozone policymakers seem to be confident that a Greek exit from the euro, hard or soft, will no longer pose a threat to the other periphery countries. They might be right; then again, back in 2008, US policymakers thought that the collapse of one investment house, Bear Stearns, had prepared markets for the bankruptcy of another, Lehman Brothers. We know how that turned out. (...)

Once the crisis erupted and Greece lost access to new private lending, the “troika” (the IMF, the ECB, and the European Commission) provided massively subsidized long-term financing. But even if Greece’s debt had been completely wiped out, going from a primary deficit of 10% of GDP to a balanced budget requires massive belt tightening – and, inevitably, recession. Germans have a point when they argue that complaints about “austerity” ought to be directed at Greece’s previous governments. These governments’ excesses lifted Greek consumption far above a sustainable level; a fall to earth was unavoidable.

Nonetheless, Europe needs to be much more generous in permanently writing down debt and, even more urgently, in reducing short-term repayment flows. The first is necessary to reduce long-term uncertainty; the second is essential to facilitate near-term growth.

Let’s face it: Greece’s bind today is hardly all of its own making. (Greece’s young people – who now often take a couple of extra years to complete college, because their teachers are so often on strike – certainly did not cause it.)

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